LAKEWOOD RANCH — Troy Mattes grew out of his soccer shoes well before he was a freshman in high school.
At 6-foot-7 and 170 pounds, college football coaches weren’t exactly lining up at Mattes’ door to offer him a scholarship.
But that didn’t deter Mattes. After all, the Lakewood Ranch resident had found his home several years before on the bases of Siesta Key Little League.
It was there that Mattes discovered his passion for baseball — a sport that would carry him farther than he ever could’ve imagined the first time he stepped onto the diamond.
“Baseball (as luck would have it) was where I was meant to be,” Mattes says.
Now, the former major league baseball pitcher is hoping to share his knowledge of the game with the area’s up-and-coming Little League and high school players.
On Dec. 1, Mattes was named Extra Innings Sarasota’s new coordinator of pitching instruction. In his new role, Mattes will help run baseball camps and pitching clinics with the goal of helping players reach their full potential both physically and mentally.
“As a kid, when you’re young and up-and-coming, you (need) to have coaches and instructors that drive you,” Mattes says. “The other thing that got me where I am today is having the right mentality.”
As a child, Mattes watched his father Aaron, a physical therapist in Sarasota, combine his passion for sports with helping people.
While his father served as the rehabilitation team doctor for Riverview High, Mattes, who served as a ball boy at the time, learned the value of giving back.
“Every Saturday morning our house was half-filled with high-school athletes,” Mattes says. “My dad really took the time to give someone the help to reach (his or her) dreams. He’s extremely charitable with his time, and I’ve kind of gotten that bug.”
Growing up in a sports-oriented family, Mattes began playing a variety of sports at an early age. In addition to playing football and soccer, Mattes played baseball for Siesta Key Little League.
It was there that Mattes discovered a passion for the game — a game that would prove to be more challenging the older he got.
“There were times when I struggled with the bat,” Mattes says. “Everything was so awkward, which is normal when you’re going through growth spurts.”
However, it wasn’t long before the Riverview High alum began using his height to his advantage.
In 1993, Mattes was a 16th-round draft pick of the Montreal Expos, for whom he played until 2006.
“I’ve always had a passion for the game,” Mattes says. “It’s a challenge that I understand and embrace. Everyone has a gift for different things and for me it’s been baseball.”
Mattes made his major league debut with the Expos June 19, 2001, when he pitched seven shutout innings.
After undergoing five surgeries throughout his career, the right-hander turned his attention to coaching.
Mattes spent the past six years as a pitching coach with the Baltimore Orioles. After a 19-year playing-and-coaching career, Mattes retired from major league baseball at the end of the 2012 season to be able to stay close to home and spend more time with his wife, Kera, and daughters Ella, 4, and Eva, 2.
Contact Jen Blanco at [email protected].